Synovial Fluid: Too much of a good thing?

Synovial Fluid: Too much of a good thing? 645d501b438fa.png

Synovial Fluid: Too much of a good thing?

Synovial fluid is a lubricating fluid in the knees that is necessary for reducing friction, helping with joint movement, and providing vital nutrients to the cartridge lining a joint.

Though this fluid is vital for healthy functioning knees, too much of it can be a problem.

So what exactly is synovial fluid?

Synovial fluid is the collection of fluid produced by the synovium,  which is the connective soft tissue membrane that lines the inner surface of the knee joints.

Together with bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and the fibrous capsule, the synovium is an important component of the tissues that form an integrated joint. As such, it not only has its own specific functions but also interacts with other tissues in the joint both structurally and functionally.

Synovial joints in the human body are the wrists, ankles, shoulder, hips, and of course, the knees.

Within these joints, the synovium produces synovial fluid which coats the tendons and the surface of the synovium.

This fluid provides not only lubrication, reduces friction, and helps with joint movement, but it also provides vital nutrients to the cartilage lining the joint.

Synovial fluid is produced as an ultrafiltrate of blood plasma and is primarily composed of hyaluronan, lubricin, proteinase, collagenases, and prostaglandins.

According to research published in Synovium and Joint Biology, synovial fluid may also contain “microparticles, which are endogenous crystals formed as a result of dysregulated metabolic processes. In particular, the synovial fluid can contain basic calcium phosphate (BCP) crystals, which are associated with osteoarthritis”.

Researchers have found that these BCP crystals can produce vigorous inflammatory responses, which disrupt normal tissue biomechanics, and directly interact with nearby cells to induce the production of destructive cytokines and prostaglandins. Though it is not entirely clear if BCP crystals are a cause or an effect of osteoarthritis.

What we do know for sure is that the malfunction of the synovial membrane, synovial cells, and synovial fluid is directly involved in major bone and joint diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other inflammatory joint diseases.

Although osteoarthritis is not considered to be a classic inflammatory disease, synovial inflammation, research has shown that synovitis is nevertheless correlated with its progression.

When the synovium tissue is inflamed the synovial fluid becomes thicker and excess synovial fluid begins to build up in the joint.

This inflammation of the joint tissue and build-up of fluid in the knee is called synovitis, which is a condition that can develop due to repetitive joint movement, injury, infection, or osteoarthritis.

If left untreated synovitis can eventually lead to the destruction of the cartilage and bone within the joint, resulting in increased pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and limited mobility.

Not only is synovitis a likely problem for those with osteoarthritis, but according to data published by Arthritis Research and Therapy it can also be a precursor to the development of osteoarthritis in the first place.

The article states that “there is evidence to strongly suggest that synovitis is involved in OA symptoms and progression, and therefore represents an important target for therapeutic intervention.”

Though synovitis results in too much fluid in the knee, and as a result causes all sorts of pain and problems, too little fluid in the knees can also be problematic.

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